Turkey launches probe into Facebook, WhatsApp data collection
The Turkish Competition Board said on Jan. 11 it launched an investigation into WhatsApp and its owner Facebook after the messaging app asked users to agree to let Facebook collect user data including phone numbers and locations.
In a written statement, the Competition Board said it ruled that the requirement to allow the collection of that data should be suspended until the probe is complete.
With WhatsApp obliging many users to agree to its new privacy rules, Turkish users avoiding it have switched to other instant messaging applications.
Over 100,000 posts were shared in a day in Turkey and the users were seen to have turned towards mostly local instant messaging applications.
Although there are numerous apps for messaging, BiP, Dedi, Signal, and Telegram were among those that were mostly uploaded.
The Turkish Presidency called for WhatsApp users to switch to BiP and Dedi, drawing attention to the fact that foreign applications involve significant risks to data security.
WhatsApp groups created by public institutions for information purposes have also started to move to BiP.
BiP, an app by Turkish mobile network giant Turkcell, gained over 1.12 million users in just 24 hours, boasting over 53 million users worldwide, according to data shared by Turkcell.
Among its distinctive features is the disappear message option which allows users to send messages safely and make them disappear on the receiver’s side in the time set by the sender.
The messaging service Signal, which was launched in 2014 with the slogan: “Say hello to privacy,” also stands out as one of the platforms users prefer over WhatsApp.
The application, which started to be preferred by more users after 2019, was developed by a non-profit organization in the U.S., The Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger.
With WhatsApp losing power in app stores, another application that attracted attention was Telegram.
The application, headquartered in London, was founded in 2013 by two Russian brothers, computer programmers Pavel Durov and Nikolai Durov.
A top Turkish defense company Havelsan developed an indigenous and safe messaging software, called ileti.
ileti, designed for corporate communication, is the first application which was developed with Whitebox Cryptography (WBC), Havelsan tweeted on Jan. 10.
“With the WBC Library, ileti protects personal keys in software and prevents them from being captured,” according to Havelsan’s website.
The changes in WhatsApp include sharing personal data, such as account information, messages, and location information with Facebook companies. It said the app could not be used unless the terms are not accepted.
Following a backlash, WhatsApp announced that users in the “Europe Region” would not be affected by the update, as their data would not be shared with Facebook companies.
But according to the app’s website, the region in question only includes EU countries, effectively forcing users in Turkey to approve the conditions to continue using the app.
Some have decried the app’s double standard, saying WhatsApp fears penalties from EU countries under data security rules.